The hacking of credit card terminals and merchant accounts at Northern California businesses has led to the arrest and indictment of 32 people associated with Contra Costa County-area street gangs, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced on September 11.
The 240-count indictment was the result of an investigation that started in February 2016 and looked at burglaries and credit card schemes taking place across 13 counties.
Investigators discovered the crimes were tied to two gangs in the Antioch, Pittsburg and Bay Point areas of Contra Costa County, according to the attorney general’s office.
The gang members broke into the businesses and stole credit card terminals, then used them to process returns that went to a debit card owned by them rather than going to the business or customer, prosecutors said.
The indictment includes 63 counts of conspiracy to commit grand theft, 54 counts of hacking, computer access and fraud, 56 counts of grand theft, 59 counts of burglary, and eight counts of identity theft.
About 40 stolen credit card terminals were recovered along with other stolen property such as laptop computers and files containing Social Security numbers or bank information, prosecutors said.
“Street gangs target and intimidate our families and businesses to feed their criminal enterprise,” Becerra said in a statement. “It takes the collaborative effort of multiple law enforcement agencies to take down criminal gangs.”
According to Becerra’s office, police from Walnut Creek, Concord, Antioch, Pittsburg, Vacaville, Napa, Sacramento, and other law enforcement agencies across Northern California assisted in the investigation.
By Dan McMenamin.